CONCORD — More than 100 Ford Mustang cars lined up to park on the dusty strip of land that will soon be home for the Mustang Owner’s Museum with car enthusiasts gathering for a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday.
The groundbreaking ceremony, held at 60 Pitts School Road NW, Concord, featured new and old Mustangs among them, including a 1967 GT500, a 1970 Boss 302 and a 1978 King Cobra, among others.
Officials said they expect the Concord museum to have a soft opening in Summer 2017 and a grand opening that Fall.
“Ford calls the Mustang its heart and soul,” said Cabarrus County Commissioners Chairman Steve Morris during the groundbreaking ceremony. “So we are incredibly proud that the national Mustang Owner’s Museum decided on Cabarrus County to be the right place to call home.”
When officials announced the development of the museum in May it was initially called the National Mustang Museum. But since then, officials have changed the name to make the title more inclusive to Mustang fans, letting them know this is “their” museum.
“More than 9.6 million Mustangs have rolled off of assembly lines and the best of the best will shelter right here,” Morris said to the crowd of Mustang enthusiasts gathered at the groundbreaking ceremony. “There’s no doubt that the Mustang faithful, like yourselves, will make a special trip to the museum. You will reminisce about the days you dreamed of owning your own and the nights you spent tinkering in your garage, somehow trying to improve on what is already one of the world’s top performance machines.”
The development of the museum here stems from the organizers of the 50th Anniversary of Mustang which was celebrated in Concord in 2014.
While not affiliated with Ford Motor Company, Mustang Club of America or any other Mustang related business venture, the project is the concept of long-time Mustang enthusiasts Steve Hall, from Atlanta, Georgia and Ron Bramlett, from Morada, California.
Hall said they look to spend more than $1 million just in the construction of a new building that will house the museum. That does not include the cost of the exhibits themselves.
The building looks to be in the range of 24,000 to 30,000 square-feet.
The building should be able to house about 50 cars on display at any given time, depending on the size of the plan developers go with. The museum will have rotating exhibits throughout each year.
Bramlett said they expect to be able to have a rotating exhibit thanks to the support of Mustang fans in the community, such as the Carolina Regional Mustang Club.
“The only one of its kind, this attraction will serve as a gathering place for Mustang aficionados from across the globe,” said Donna Carpenter, Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau president/CEO. “A place where stories are shared, friendships are formed and memories are made.”
The project is coming to Concord thanks to a relationship with the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The bureau established a relationship with Hall and Bramlett after working to attract and host the Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration held in Concord in April 2014. Bramlett served as the executive director of the event.
In addition to Mustang-related driving events and various events at the museum, Hall and Bramlett are also aiming to host a number of yearly Mustang gatherings to benefit the museum which will be announced at a later date.
With the selected location just two miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway, Hall and Bramlett have also started exploring partnership opportunities with track officials.
Hall said they chose Concord for the museum, because of the success of the 50th anniversary of the Mustang event held in 2014.
Hall added Concord had a natural fan base for car enthusiasts, making a good spot for the museum, in an area known for its NASCAR ties.
“Known as ‘Where Racing Lives,’ Cabarrus County is a destination that not only shares the history of the sport, but allows all who pass through our area to be immersed in the automotive culture,” Carpenter said. “By showcasing this iconic car, the Mustang Owner’s Museum will provide a new interactive way to discover horsepower in the heart of racing country.”
Fans discovering that new attraction could have a huge economic impact on Cabarrus County, just based on the 50th anniversary of the Mustang celebration in 2014.
More than 50,000 Ford Mustang enthusiasts spent about $8.3 million in Cabarrus County during the five-day celebration marking the Mustang’s 50th anniversary in 2014, according to estimates.
Officials said the estimates are based on the Destination Marketing Association International event calculator, which takes what type of event is being organized — in this case sports: adult amateur — and calculates spending based on room nights and other criteria. The results are based on an estimated 9,600 room nights used by visitors during the event, which ran from April 15 through April 20.
Of the estimated $8.3 million spent by visitors during the event, about $5 million of that was direct sales, such as a person buying an item from a store, or buying a dinner from a restaurant. The remaining $3 million came from indirect sales, such as the supplier bringing in items for the store to sell, or a distributer selling food to a restaurant.
CVB officials estimate that 50th anniversary of Mustang fans spent $1.2 million in lodgings just in Cabarrus County. Fans, organizers and media/sponsors spent another $458,878 in transportation costs.
The event also generated nearly $1.7 million in food and beverage sales, and $1.2 million in retail sales. In addition, the event generated $421,401 in local taxes.
That economic activity served to support 1,849 jobs during the celebration, officials estimate.
More than 4,000 Mustangs were registered to participate at the events at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2014, with cars from around the world.
Officials could see the presence of the National Mustang Museum having a similar impact on Cabarrus County on an annual basis.
“The Mustang is more than a car, it’s a part of American culture,” Morris said. “That is why the national Mustang Owner’s Museum will appeal to the millions of people that visit our area each year. The Mustang is everywhere, it is recognizable to all of us. It’s the most widely featured car on big and small screens and it’s an inspiration for songs, its featured in apparels, toys and games.”